The Kills - Midnight Boom
Record Label: Domino Records
Release Date: March 10, 2008
The Kills are, without doubt, one of the oddest bands around in today's scene. On 2008's Midnight Boom, tracks range from lo-fi indie melodies to short, minute-long bursts of upbeat experimentation often layered with snappy guitars and electronic inserts. Did I mention they have a female vocalist? And yet, despite that terribly obnoxious-sounding description, it all tends to merge together into something very listenable, and even fun.
After the intro "URA Fever", the album really starts off with "Cheap and Cheerful," which, much like its title, sets off a pleasant mood and some gentle lyrics about the unnecessary things in life. Throughout this album's progress, you will notice this is a definitive theme: a pleasant-sounding tune yet lyrics with a much dark underlying moral or at least, something for the listener to consider. "Tape Song" is one of those more downbeat songs on the album, but variation for variation's sake does not seem to be the inspiration behind this effort. "Getting Down" and "Hook and Line" are further examples of those quick songs which burst out and almost die before you have time to enjoy them, yet this album wouldn't feel the same without them. They serve well as an interlude before what is possibly the best song on Midnight Boom, "Black Balloon". The closest you're gonna get to an emotional ballad from The Kills, this song is a sorrowful experience. Full of metaphorical lyrics and down-tuned acoustic guitar, "Black Balloon" is three and a half minutes of reflection and tired thought, and it all sounds so special.
"M.E.X.I.C.O.C.U" and "Alphabet Pony," in which bounciness and raw energy abound, snap the band out of their commiserating and make them move around. The album closes with "Goodnight Bad Morning" and at the close, assuming your iTunes doesn't roll straight into Kimya Dawson or your CD player doesn't start breaking and scratching up your disc, it is very easy to feel a bit confused about what exactly you've just heard.
Midnight Boom will both strike you and fly straight over your head when you first hear it, and it does take time to sink in. If you are an extreme Radiohead fan with ears only for intellectualism, then this isn't for you. However, if you just want something brainless to pass the time, then don't pick this out either. It will be interesting to see where The Kills go next. Clearly they have plenty of potential and can continue to grow and be more successful, but something to watch for is whether they choose to focus on one aspect of their style to go forwards with, or just try and improve on the foundations that they have now provided for themselves.